Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Building Worlds Out of Nothing

I read these picture books as a little kid called Harold and the Purple Crayon. They told the story of a boy named Harold who drew worlds with his crayon--and they became true! He could draw things and then interact with them. I was always so captivated by the wonder and whimsy of that idea...

...And I realized one day that it's true for authors, too.

We build things out of nothing. We create whole worlds from thin air, from a whiff of a dream or a handful of memories or a single shimmering idea that won't let us go. And we can go anywhere with those ideas. When I'm writing a story, I can take those characters to China or the moon or a country in a cupboard. I can build any sized set piece I want or need for this story I'm telling. There are no limits except the ones in my own imagination.

Sometimes I forget how AWESOME that is, how open-ended and full of promise storytelling can be. As an author, I'm not limited by budget or actor schedules or locations. It's magical. It's amazing. I feel like Harold with his purple crayon and a blank canvas.

And readers build worlds in thin air, too. When you read a story, you take the script on the page and bring it to life in your mind. The characters, the setting...it can all be as grand as you can imagine.

Books are magic, and those who read and write them are wizards.

Wizard on, friends.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How Do You Define "Favorite?"

Here's a question I get asked all the time online (okay, mostly Goodreads). But still!

"What's your favorite book?"

Guys. This question is practically IMPOSSIBLE for me to answer. Distilling all the thousands of books I've read over the years into one or two favorites? How in the world do I choose? How do I decide what's my favorite?

Okay, I am a little indecisive. But it's not even about that. It's about the way I categorize books.

"Favorite" is a tough categorization. Basically, if I LOVE LOVE LOVE a book, then it falls into one of three categories in my head, which handily come down to ABC.

This first category encompasses many books that I'd label as favorites...

3. Cake Books

Cake is delicious and I love to eat it. In fact, when I get cake, I usually gobble it up right away. I stuff my face. I practically INHALE it. Cake books are the same. I probably stayed up late into the night reading each one. I probably giggled, gasped, or squealed at least once while reading them, and I've probably spent some time daydreaming about them since. There's no "literary requirement" here--a cake book can be serious or fun, deep and literary or light and fluffy. But either way, I was glued to the page, starving for more, unable to stop reading. And the experience of reading was delicious.

Examples of Cake Books:

The Hunger Games, Cross My Heart, Scarlett Fever, Legend, Divergent, etc.

2. Breathtaking Books

Breathtaking Books are the kind of books that opened up my mind, challenged me, or, well...took my breath away. Breathtaking Books are often classics, or Pulitzer Prize-winners, or literary tomes filled with poetic prose. I don't ever forget Breathtaking Books...in fact, I may find myself changed by them, remembering them often, or taking bits of them into my soul or my own writing.

Are these my favorite books?

I don't know. In a way, yes, as I adored them. But I don't always want to re-read a Breathtaking Book, even if I loved it, and sometimes I don't even recommend them to other people. There's something personal about them, something raw and honest and sometimes frightening. A lot of books in the Breathtaking Book category were hard to read, too...maybe they scared me, or challenged me, or exhausted me. They are experiences I'm glad I had, but I'm not sure if I want to relive them. They definitely spring to mind when people ask for favorites, but at the same time a part of me wonders if I'm being HONEST when I call them favorites. But they certainly deserve a mention all the same. I more than liked them, and I even more than loved them. I was touched by them, changed by them, challenged by them.

The Life of Pi was a Breathtaking Book for me. So were The Poisonwood Bible, The Blind Assassin, The Lovely Bones, Looking for Alaska, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Bridge of San Luis Rey.

Of course, some books are both Breathtaking and Cake:

Teach Me, Delirium, and Pandemonium, for example. I read them furiously but also felt humbled and moved by the prose and the stories themselves in a way that will stick with me for a long time. The Fault in Our Stars was maybe a cake book, but it's hard for a book about cancer to be a cake book. But still.

But then there's a third category...

1. Amnesia Books

I call these books Amnesia Books because I love them so much and I found the experience of reading them for the first time so enjoyable that I wish I could take a pill that would give me selective amnesia so I could read them all over again and enjoy them "fresh," not knowing what will happen.

For example, anything by Megan Whalen Turner is definitely an Amnesia Book. A lot of beloved books of mine by Maria V Snyder, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, and Robin McKinley are as well.

I can't decide if Harry Potter is an Amnesia Book or not. MAYBE. Truthfully, there's so many books in the series, and the latter ones are so long and chock-full of stuff, that I easily forget half of what has happened in between readings and so I don't really need an amnesia pill. But you get the idea. :)

Of course, Cake Books are often Amnesia Books, although I've found that Breathtaking Books usually aren't. I'm usually glad I had the experience of reading a Breathtaking Book, but it's often a taxing one that I don't necessarily want to repeat. Sometimes, though... Every favorite book is different.

I am most likely to cite an Amnesia Book when someone asks for my favorite. But that isn't the whole story, because all these categories encompass my favorites, just in different ways.

Readers--do you have a particular way of categorizing your favorites, or do you simply have one category--favorites?

Monday, May 7, 2012

~Some ebook news~

THE CURSE GIRL is currently on sale for just $0.99 at Amazon, and probably only will be that price for another few days. Get it while it's cheap!!! It's also being featured today on Kindle Books for a Buck, check it out!!

FROST is also being featured as indie pick of the week at The Cheap Reader.

I'm also in the middle of the first draft of THORNS. Hopefully I've have more news on that in a few weeks, maybe a cover to reveal...? :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Shut Up and Read has just posted an interview with me, check it out! SU&R has been so sweet to me on Goodreads, inviting me to join their group and then hosting my book in their review program. It's been a joy to collaborate with them, and I enjoyed doing this interview. :-)

In other news...sorry for the radio silence lately, ya'll. I was on a bit of an emotional walkabout last week, plus I've been chipping away at the first draft of Thorns (and also working on the cover design, which is coming together NICELY). I've also been dealing with a muscle injury for the last few months, and April was kind of a "I'm in pain so I don't want to do anything, let alone write" kind of month. But thankfully physical therapy has been working and I seem to be getting better, finally.

Back to the grindstone it is. :-)

Hope everyone is having a good start to their month.


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